Bees not only provide us with a natural and tasty sweetener, they are also essential for the production of vegetables, fruits and flowers. These little flying wonders are the best pollinators in nature, but their numbers are dwindling due to lack of bee-friendly habitats. You can help promote the increase of the bee population by including some of the best flowers for bees in your backyard garden.
Create a Three-Season Garden for Bees
Keep bloom times in mind as you select flowers to attract bees to your garden. By planting a variety of flowers that produce blooms spring through fall, you will create a three-season garden that not only provides months of color, but also offers months of food for bees and other flying pollinators.
Spring Flowers for Bees
- Heather (Calluna vulgaris) is one of the earliest spring-blooming plants. It’s a hardy perennial that grows in clumps, produces thousands of tiny purple blooms and will attract a multitude of hungry bees.
- Red Currant (Ribes rubrum) is a tall, fast growing perennial that repels deer while attracting honey bees and hummingbirds.
- Lavender (Lavandula) is a fragrant evergreen shrub that produces thousands of tiny blooms that attract bees all spring.
- Grape Hyacinth (Muscari) is a small perennial that appears in early spring and produces downward facing purple blooms. These easy-care flowers grow well in shade or sun.
Summer Flowers for Bees
- Anise Hyssop (Agastache cvs) is my favorite flower to attract bees. Its wands of tiny flowers, which can range from blue to pink, attract bees like a magnet. Annise hyssop has a lovely licorice scent and is easy to grow. I‘ve never seen it in bloom without several busy bees enthusiastically gathering its nectar, totally absorbed in their work.
- Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is a hard working perennial that provides pollen, nectar, seeds, a flat-surface landing spot and colorful garden beauty.
- Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a perennial that produces flat heads comprised of a multitude of tiny blooms. The plant comes in many bloom colors and is a favorite of many flying pollinators.
- Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.) produces an abundance of yellow-petaled flowers throughout the summer and comes back every year.
- Asters (Symphotrichum spp.) are perennials that bloom in late summer. They are colorful and proficient bloomers that are irresistible to bees.
Fall Flowers for Bees
- Golden Rod (Solidago) produces spikes of yellow blooms that signal fall has arrived. Plants grow up to three feet tall and are drought tolerant.
- Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium maculatum) is a tall perennial (5-8 feet) that produces bloom heads the size of dinner plates. Plant in a sunny location and it will produce blooms until the first frost.
- Bugbane (Cimifuga spp.) is another tall growing (6 feet) perennial plant that bees adore. It produces wispy foot-long flower spikes that smell like honey.
- Zinnia (Zinnia elegans) are cheery annuals that bloom summer through fall until frost. Zinnias come in a wide range of heights and bloom colors. They’re an easy-to-grow addition to your garden that will make your bees so happy!
Planting wildflowers native to your area can also help provide pollen and nectar for bees in your backyard garden. Discover which wildflowers are native to where you live through the Pollinator Conservation Resource Center or the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.
The Independent recommends focusing on cottage garden flowers, such as lupins, delphiniums, foxgloves and hollyhocks. Plant your flowers in patches because bees like to focus on one flower type at a time, suggests the The Honeybee Conservancy. Also, use only natural pesticides and fertilizers. According to their website, “If you must treat your garden, opt for organic pesticide options and spray at night when pollinators are least active.”
Learn more from The Honeybee Conservancy about other ways you can help save the bees.
Do you have other favorite flowers that attract bees to your garden?